This month, there was a rainstorm in Rīga that flooded many streets temporarily. Water drainage systems or road maintenance dealt with the issue within a couple of hours. But some streets in Rīga flood daily after small rainfalls because there are no water drainage systems. One of them is Kārsavas Street in Dārzciems.
A small section of Kārsavas Street is lower than the courtyards of the surrounding houses, so there is always water on it. Residents call their neighborhood "the Venice of Rīga". This week the puddles were not the biggest they've seen – sometimes, they quite literally need a boat.
The street belongs to the Rīga City Council. Residents have been fighting with the local government to sort it out for several years. For the time being, without results.
“All the letters sent to the Riga City Council, to the Transport Department, to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, to the Riga Territorial Development Board – we have a refusal everywhere,” says Laura Dubra, resident of Kārsavas Street.
“This stage has no lighting, no water drainage system, no cleaning in winter, no maintenance in summer. When it rains, we can't get through those ponds, children don't go to school."
Laura said that all households are taxpayers of real estate tax, which is added to the budget of Rīga and that the municipality should maintain its road.
There are approximately 10 private houses and a multi-apartment house on the flooding section. In order for children to reach school on the first day of the school year, the inhabitants of this house have devised a creative solution to bypass the puddle. The people of the building have agreed with their understanding neighbors and have made one part of the fence into a gate.
At risk of penalties, residents have tried to repair municipal property on their own. The Department of Transport explained that permanent maintenance work is not carried out at the street stage, since this, although it is indeed the property of the municipality, does not exist within the limits of the "red lines" of the spatial plan. Red lines limit rights of the use of property.
Accordingly, the municipality is currently addressing the issue to include it in the red lines. “At the moment when it is decided that this street is in red lines, it will be possible to take over it in maintenance,” said Jānis Vaivods, director of the Riga City Council Transport Department.
The Chairman of the Transport and Traffic Affairs Committee of the City Council, Olafs Pulks (New Unity), said that such a procedure could take at least one year. When asked why the procedure had not been started before, when citizens had been asking about it for years, Pulks said that so far there was too little attention and funding devoted to street infrastructure. He also promised to look for solutions to do maintenance work in the street before it was included in the red lines.
At the same time, officials stressed that if dangerous situations (deep puddles, holes, or snowdrifts) develop on the street, the Transport Department should address the problem without the bureaucratic "red lines".